Origin Grill calls for return visits, thanks to its robust and unpretentious cooking.
The restaurant musical chair that had been going on at the Shangri-La hotel is finally over with the opening of Origin Grill this month.
The new restaurant is located behind the hotel’s lobby on the ground floor, where Japanese restaurant Nadaman used to be.
Nadaman is now gone and another Japanese restaurant, Nami, opened on the hotel’s 24th floor last year – which in turn was where Nadaman used to be back in the 1970s. And if you have been around as long as I have, you may remember the fine-dining French restaurant Latour on the lobby floor that was the pride of the dining scene here in the 1980s.
If you are confused by all that opening and closing, never mind. You just need to know this – the Japanese restaurant is now upstairs and the new grill is on the ground floor.
Origin is made up of two separate spaces – a bar just after the entrance and the dining room at the back. The bar, especially after it fills up, is more visually exciting with its backlit wall display of bottles and cosy cushions to lounge in.
The restaurant, on the other hand, is cold and bland. The monotony of the beige-coloured room gets little relief save for a couple of potted plants against the walls. The only design element seems to be the arched doorways leading to a set of private rooms and a similar row of arches coming down from the ceiling in the middle of the room. The overall look strikes me as a pared-down stage set for a monastery.
But perhaps that is intentional because the mediaeval European monks were known gourmets and the food at Origin could well be what would whet their appetite.
The cooking is robust and unpretentious. Call me old-fashioned, but I like that everything on the plate is instantly recognisable and every flavour detectable.
Australian chef Heidi Flanagan’s menu has a good number of steaks, but non-beef eaters can find a generous selection of appetisers and other main courses to pick from.